I recently had a terrific time reading a novel called Smoke, by Dan Vyleta. The book takes place in a 19th century England which is closed off from science and technology, and its most salient element is smoke, which people emit any time they indulge in a passion of some kind. If they’re even just a little jealous or angry, not to mention lustful, envious, gloating or greedy, they smoke, which alerts everybody around them that they’re sinners; there’s no hiding it. Teachers and housemasters actually check the linens and underwear of students for telltale spots of soot that betray wet dreams at night.
Of course, it’s the poor who smoke constantly due to the stresses of their lives while the rich, surrounded by piety and comfort, happily show off their white, unblemished shirts and collars as proof of their moral superiority. The rich also have access to contraband, like sweets, that you chew to get rid of the smoke, enabling you to sin without public exposure. Perfection is mastering one’s passions, and almost the only thing that doesn’t result in smoke is righteousness.
I started wondering about smoke and Donald Trump. No, not Trump personally, but all the people who are card-carrying members of Trump World. Come on, we know who we are, don’t we?
What makes us bona fide card-carrying member of Trump World? When we start sending and sharing every single Facebook message and post, every single tweet to everybody we know in the world to remind them what a bad hombre he is.
When we assume that our friends are illiterate and read no newspapers, online or off, so we generously share all the latest articles on him showing him to be an idiot (who happened to win the last Presidential election), a monster, and an out-of-control adolescent who also managed to marry a trophy wife and procreate selfish, greedy children.
Just in case our friends aren’t availing themselves of our volunteer news service, we send them personal Facebook Messages linking them to the latest scandal of how the Trump empire makes money off his presidency (one would think that’s never happened in this country before or that politics and money usually avoid each other like the plague).
And just in case there isn’t enough smoke around to choke the daylights out of each and every American child, we get into a contest with other denizens of Trump World as to who could dig up even worse news about him (And if that’s not bad enough, And what about, And did you know that, And the most terrible thing of all is that . . .).
Never mind that we’re doing exactly what he’d like us to do because, as a very talented publicity hound, he knows that even bad publicity is better than no publicity, and that the greater and louder the divisions and schism splitting this country apart, the better are his chances of holding on to the White House.
Yesterday the Zen Peacemakers posted on their Facebook blog an article from The Daily Beast about Christopher Ford, who was ordained by Joan Halifax as a Buddhist chaplain and serves in the Trump administration’s National Security Council. Ford was quoted as saying: I take not knowing as an admonition to continually be intellectually humble… to remember how complex the world is and that we’re really pretty bad at predicting how everything’s going to turn out.
I thought that was wonderful, till I read that he also believes that sometimes nuclear weapons are justified. Did we let him get away with that? Don’t you worry. We howled in derision: What kind of Zen Buddhist are you? Let’s face it, if not-knowing doesn’t produce the actions we agree with—what good is it?
We, card-carrying members of Trump World, know who the enemy is.
Watch that smoke spread, and spread, and spread.